Questions and answers

Summary Questions and answers about the Education and Training Benefit

Q1. What is the new Education and Training Benefit (ETB)?

The ETB is a taxable benefit that complements the redesigned Career Transition Services program, also announced in the 2017 budget. The aim of both is to help Veterans transition successfully to the civilian workforce after completing service in the Canadian Armed Forces.


Q2. When will the Education and Training Benefit (ETB) be implemented?

You may apply for the ETB as of April 1, 2018.


Eligibility


Q3. Who is eligible for Education and Training Benefit?

There are two eligibility factors to consider:

  • Release date: You must have been honourably released from the Canadian Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve Force) on or after April 1, 2006, and;
  • Length of service:
    • Those with at least six years of service are eligible to receive up to $40,000.
    • Those with at least 12 years of service are eligible to receive up to $80,000.

Q4. Is there a time limit that I need to apply for this benefit?

You will have up to 10 years following your release date to use the funding available from this benefit. If you released between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2018, you have until March 31, 2028 to use the funding.


Q5. Are there any exceptional circumstances for the time limit?

There are exceptional circumstances if you exceed the time limit. You may qualify for funds if:

  • you have an approved Education and Training Benefit plan is in effect prior to the time limit,
  • circumstances have arisen that are beyond your control, and
  • you have notified VAC as soon as possible.

Q6. I strongly believe that access to the Education and Training Benefit would improve my well-being; however, I released before April 1, 2006 and cannot access this program. Why am I not eligible for this benefit?

Veterans who released before April 1, 2006, receive compensation and benefits under the Pension Act. As ETB falls under the New Veterans Charter programs and benefits, it is only available to Veterans who released on or after April 1, 2006.

The New Veterans Charter was created more than ten years ago as a support and benefits system centred on Veteran well-being and the successful transition to life after service. The introduction of the ETB is intended to align with and reinforce the Charter's core principles of well-being. As a result, eligibility for the benefit is harmonized with the Charter. The intent of the ETB is to help you to successfully transition to life after service, achieve your education and post-service employment goals, and be more competitive in the civilian workforce.

If you released prior to April 1, 2006 and you feel that your transition into life after service has been hindered by service-related barriers, we may have other program and benefit options that will help you.


Q7. What if I am medically released before I reach six years of service? Will I have access to the ETB, or is there another support available for education and training?

If you are medically released before reaching six years of service, education and training may be available through the vocational program offered by SISIP or VAC's Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program.

For more information on the vocational program offered through SISIP please contact your Canadian Armed Forces case manager.

To learn more about VAC's Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program please contact your case manager or veteran service agent or visit our website. You may qualify for this program if you are a Veteran or Canadian Armed Forces member who:

  • has medically-release within the last 120 days; or
  • has any health problem resulting from your military service that is making it difficult for you to adjust to life at home, in your community or at work.

Q8. Can I qualify for both Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance and the new Education and Training Benefit or is it one or the other?

You may be eligible for both benefits if you released on or after April 1, 2006. However, the ETB has a 10-year time limit and cannot be paid during your participation in the Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance Program. You could receive the ETB either before or after your participation in the Rehabilitation and Vocational Assistance Program, but you cannot receive both at the same time.


Q9. If I am receiving the Canadian Forces Income Support (CFIS) benefit, can I also receive the Education and Training Benefit (ETB)?

If you are eligible for CFIS, you may apply and qualify for the Education and Training Benefit. However, the legislation does not permit any Education and Training Benefit payments to be made while you are receiving CFIS.

CFIS provides financial assistance to Veterans to meet basic needs once they have completed VAC's Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance program but have not yet secured employment. Veterans under age 65 in receipt of CFIS must participate in an approved career transition services program. Given the CFIS critieria - that Veterans are looking for and willing to accept employment and that they meet an income test - that is why you would not be able to receive the ETB while receiving CFIS.

Additionally, the Education and Training Benefit is a taxable benefit. As CFIS is a household income-tested benefit, the amount paid for education and training would significantly impact the amount you would be eligible to receive from CFIS. However, as soon as you are no longer entitled to CFIS, you may be able to receive funding from ETB.


Q10. Can I receive the benefit if I am a still-serving member?

Only after you complete your service. Still-serving Canadian Armed Forces members are not eligible for this benefit. There are in-service education benefits available for serving members. Members should contact their chain of command for further information.


Q11. I am a Reservist. Do I qualify for the Education and Training Benefit?

Serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces (Regular Forces or Reserves) are not eligible for the ETB. However, the ETB is available to all Veterans who honourably released on or after April 1, 2006 and have completed a minimum of six years of CAF service. The calculation of service years includes Regular or Reserve Force service, or a combination of both. The calculation is completed through DND pension services.


Q12. Can I apply as a still-serving member so that I can start school as soon as I am released?

Since the eligibility criteria requires VAC to confirm your honourable release and your total years of service, a decision cannot be made until you have officially released from the Canadian Armed Forces. If you are eligible for Career Transition Services, the VAC CTS counsellors will also be able to help you with your planning.


Q13. How are the number of serving days calculated for the Education and Training Benefit?

The number of days of eligible military service will be provided by the Department of National Defence taking into account all of your eligible service.


Q14. Do family members qualify for the Education and Training Benefit?

No. Family members do not qualify for the ETB. However, there are other options available.

Survivors, spouses and common-law partners may be able to access vocational assistance and supports if the Veteran is ill or injured and unable to participate in vocational rehabilitation as part of VAC's Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance program. In addition, the Education Assistance Program (EAP) provides support for higher education to children of certain deceased Veterans and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.


Q15. Why is the Education and Training Benefit (ETB) not available to my family?

The ETB was announced in Budget 2017 in specific recognition of your military service and commitment to Canada, and to support your successful transition to life after service.

Veterans Affairs Canada also offers Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Assistance to survivors, spouses and common-law partners, providing access to job-finding services and support for training and related costs (such as tuition and books). Learn more about these benefits. In addition, the Education Assistance Program (EAP) provides support for higher education to children of certain deceased Veterans and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.


Q16. How do I apply for the Education and Training Benefit?

You can apply for the Education and Training Benefit in the ways listed below.

  • If you are registered for My VAC Account, you can submit your application online. My VAC Account offers a guided web form that makes applying for the benefit easier. If you aren't registered you can register now. This is the fast and easiest way to apply for ETB. My VAC Account
  • You can download the application form. Then, drop it off - or get help filling it out - at a VAC Area Office.
  • You can also download the application form and then send it to us directly through the mail.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada
    PO Box 6000
    Matane, QC G4W 0E4

To access funding, you will need to complete the Education and Training Benefit plan and have it approved by VAC prior to the start date of taking courses.


Still-serving member information


Q17. I am a still-serving member but plan on releasing soon, can I apply for the Education and Training Benefit now so it is ready upon my release?

Yes, as a still-serving member, you can apply for the Education and Training Benefit, but please note that your application will not be processed until you officially release. If you do apply for the benefit before you release, we will advise you that your application will be held. It will not be processed until you have released AND you have notified us of your release by calling us at 1-866-522-2122. We recommend that you do not apply for the benefit more than 6 months in advance of your release so that we have access to recent and accurate information.

As the amount of the benefit is based on your years of service, we need to ensure we have the most up to date information in making our decision. This requires us to verify your total service with CAF and that you have been honourably released. These are the two eligibility requirements for this benefit.

We will then process your application and you can expect a decision within four weeks.

Please remember that you must also submit a Formal Education Program Plan or a Short Course application BEFORE your program starts in order for funding to apply to the initial study period or course. Payments will not be made for study periods or courses that begin before these documents are submitted.


Q18. Why don't you ask me for my release date on the application?

In an effort to make the process easier for you, we are making every effort to find information within service records. We verify your release date and your years of service directly with CAF to ensure we use accurate information to make a decision


Q19. Why can't you ask me for a release date and use that to calculate my years of service?

Calculation of your years of service is based on the same calculation that is used to determine your pensionable service time so the information we need has already been calculated. Where possible, we get this information direct from the CAF on your behalf to ensure accuracy and consistency.


Q20. I am in the Supplementary Reserves. Am I eligible for the Education and Training Benefit?

No. The Supplementary Reserves are a sub-component of the Reserves and are considered CAF members. Serving members are not eligible to receive the Education and Training Benefit.


Q21. Why can't still serving members receive the Education and Training Benefit?

This benefit, like other benefits and services Veterans Affairs Canada offers, can only be provided once a member has released from service. However, there are a number of education and career services available from the CAF for serving members. We suggest contacting your chain of command for further information.

For further information on education and training within CAF go to the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces website.


Monetary value


Q22. How much am I entitled to under the Education and Training Benefit?

If you served at least six years in the military you would be eligible for up to $40,000. If you served 12 years or more you would be eligible for up to $80,000. The funding is to help you cover costs such as tuition, books, and some incidental and living expenses. Note that maximum payment per academic year is $20,000.


Q23. Is the Education and Training Benefit taxable?

Yes, the funding provided to you is taxable. You should consider the financial and tax implications of this benefit as it may affect other benefits you may eligible to receive, such as Canada Student Loans, bursaries and other government benefits.


Q24. Why is the Education and Training Benefit taxable?

Income you receive as a result of your current or former employment, including tuition assistance is generally taxable. The same tax rules apply to the Education and Training Benefit, which provides support for college, university or technical education to Veterans with at least six years of military service. However, like any student, you will be eligible to claim the Tuition and Education Tax Credit on your income tax at the federal and provincial levels.


Q25. Will the Education and Training Benefit be provided directly to me or paid to the institution?

The ETB will be paid directly to you. You will then be responsible for paying the costs at your education institution. Any remaining funds can be used at your discretion to cover other costs including books and living expenses during the term of study.


Q26. I am eligible for $80,000 and my course is two years. I am only able to access $40,000. Why can't I receive the full Education and Training Benefit amount?

The ETB was designed to provide financial support while you pursue post-secondary education up to a maximum of $20,000 per academic year. If you complete your education and there is funding remaining, you may be able to pursue additional courses or training.


Q27. Are there exceptional circumstances for courses above the maximum annual $20,000?

Yes. Exceptional circumstances may include programs where the mandatory program costs are higher than the maximum of $20,000 per academic year. For example, a masters program that runs over 16 months and costs $47,800 may result in the Veteran receiving up to $50,000 for that program. These circumstances will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


Q28. Do I receive the payment in a lump sum?

The payment amounts depend on the cost and length of your program. For example, if you are entitled to $80,000 and you choose a four-year university degree, you will receive $20,000 per year, $10,000 payable at the beginning of each semester, assuming you attend school full-time from September to April each year.


Q29. How does VAC ensure that the Education and Training Benefit and funds are being used appropriately?

You will need to create an ETB plan that will be pre-approved by VAC. You must provide proof of completion after each study period and proof of enrollment for your next period of study before payments can be made. If you do not submit all the required information to VAC before your period of study begins, you will not be provided funding for that period.

Any remaining funds, after your tuition is paid, may be used at your discretion to cover other costs, including education supplies and some living expenses.


Q30. What is included in the Education Plan required by VAC as part of ETB?

The Education and Training Plan needs to have the following approved:

  • the education institution must be listed on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) master list of designated educational institutions
  • the program credentials must meet the requirements (degree, diploma, certification or designation)
  • the length of course must meet the minimum criteria
  • the program must be able to be completed within the 10 year time frame - requires verification of the overall number of courses required and the Veteran's plan for study
  • need to verify that the plan does not cover courses that were already taken before the plan was received by VAC (these are not covered).

Q31. What if I fail or change a course that I am taking? Will VAC continue to support me through the Education and Training Benefit?

Yes. However, your ETB plan will have to be reviewed to ensure the amount being paid will continue to cover the costs up to your maximum.

For example, let's say you begin university to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree but decide to change to Bachelor of Business Administration after the first semester. In this case, your plan must be updated to reflect the change and also reviewed to calculate any changes in duration or costs.


Q32. Can I be reimbursed if I already paid for my tuition out of pocket?

No. Tuition paid prior to April 1, 2018 for courses that have already begun or were already completed will not be reimbursed.


Q33. If I already started school and then apply for the Education and Training Benefit, will you pay for my tuition?

To receive funding for a program, you must have an ETB plan approved. Only study periods that begin after the completed plan is received by VAC will be considered for funding once the plan is approved.

For example, if your program starts on September 10, your completed ETB plan must be submitted and approved prior to that date to be eligible for funding for your first semester. If your plan is submitted after September 10, your funding would start in your second semester.

It will be important for you to identify the various deadlines and start dates for your program to ensure you submit your plan in advance of these dates.


Q34. How are the education and training payments calculated?

The payments are calculated according to the:

  • amount that you are eligible to receive,
  • duration of program as determined by the education institution, and
  • anticipated time it will take to you complete the program.

The eligible amount will be calculated to be evenly distributed over the program duration, usually payable each semester or term, to a maximum of $20,000 per academic year. Extended or compressed periods of study will be calculated according to the Veteran's anticipated period of study.

The disbursement amount cannot exceed the maximum of $20,000 per standard academic year unless approved under exceptional circumstances.


Q35. Do you think it is fair that some people will have money for additional expenses while others will not?

VAC recognizes that education and living expenses can be very different depending on where you live in Canada. VAC has designed the Education and Training Benefit to provide financial support while you attend school, and to help cover other costs you may incur while studying. There may be instances where funding covers a large or small portion of additional expenses depending on the:

  • amount funding you qualify for;
  • total program cost; and
  • area you live in.

The intent of the program is to help pay for your education. If there are funds left over they are intended to be used to cover other costs including books and costs of living during the term of study.

Providing funding for actual costs and living expenses would have significantly increased the administration of the benefit and placed a burden on you to submit receipts and other documentation on an ongoing basis. Instead, the ETB provides you with a standard amount of funding that can be used to support your education, and gives you the freedom to decide how to use any remaining funds.


Program/Course information


Q36. What institutions can I attend while using this benefit?

The education institution must be listed on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)


Q37. Are there restrictions on the programs and courses I can take?

There are some restrictions. Degree, diploma or certificate programs offered by designated post-secondary schools that run for at least 12 weeks within a 15-week period are eligible.

Examples include:

  • college-level certificate,
  • college-level diploma,
  • college degree,
  • university certificate,
  • university diploma,
  • university degree,
  • certificate in [name of discipline], and
  • post-secondary certificate with a focus in [area of concentration]

The program must be offered at one of the schools on the Employment and Social Development Canada's (ESDC) master list of designated educational institutions. ESDC updates this list regularly.


Q38. Does VAC recommend any schools?

Career coaches in the Career Transition Services program can provide information and guidance to help you choose a school that meets your needs. VAC will not recommend or endorse any specific school. You can attend any of the schools on the ESDC list.


Q39. I am being advised to attend a specific school because they say they are focusing on Veterans. How do I know if I should attend this school?

You should decide to go to the school of your choice.

Information is also available through the ESDC website to help choose a school.


Q40. How does our institution get on VAC's preferred list so that Veterans can be referred to us?

VAC does not have a list of preferred institutions and is not making referrals to any particular school. Any counselling that is provided aims to help Veterans develop the skills and knowledge to find the career they want. The decision to attend a certain institution is made by the Veteran.


Q41. How do I get VAC's Career Transition Services contractor to refer Veterans to our institution?

The role of the contractor is to help Veterans and their family members find a meaningful career. If education and training is part of their plan, the focus is not to direct them to any particular institution but provide them with the skills and knowledge required to apply for education programs. The decision to attend an institution is made by the Veteran.


Q42. Will VAC reimburse me for travel while I go to school?

ETB payments are made in advance for each term or semester. The funds are intended to be used to cover education costs as well as provide some funding for other costs including books and some living expenses while you attend school. Specific expenses will not be reimbursed.


Q43. What if I don't want to go to university or college?

If university or college is not your choice, up to $5,000 would be available for career and personal development courses such as small business development workshops, and continuing education.


Q44. What is a short-term course?

Short-term courses include:

  • entrepreneurial boot camps,
  • community school courses such as photography, woodworking, and art classes,
  • business development workshops and seminars, and
  • instructor certification courses such as life coach, dance, fitness and yoga.

Requests for funding require that short-term courses must:

  • be provided by a recognized organization, community-based group or individual,
  • be offered and available to a broad population of Veterans and/or the general Canadian public,
  • be provided either online or in a public forum,
  • be publicly advertised and accessible by the general public, and
  • include information that indicates who provides the course, where it is being offered, how it is being delivered, how much it costs, etc.

Q45. Can I take more than one short-term course?

VAC will provide a maximum of $5,000 for short-term courses for personal development. This maximum can be used at different times and for additional courses.


Q46. Is there a completion bonus?

Yes. When you complete your diploma, degree, professional designation, or certification for the program that you participated in under the ETB, you may be eligible to receive a one-time taxable benefit of $1,000.


Q47. Will I receive a completion bonus for a short-term course?

No. Short-term courses do not qualify for the completion bonus.


Q48. Can I use the ETB on more than one program or certificate?

Yes. If you are eligible for the Education and Training Benefit and do not use all the funds for your program, you may use the remaining funds to pursue additional education or training at a later date. You will need to provide a new ETB plan and receive approval from VAC.